Brendan, a 41-year-old physical education teacher from Herndon, VA, was voted out of the game on Night 12 at Tribal Council through a 5-4 vote instead of Bradley Kleihege, a 26-year-old law student from Haslett, MI.
Brendan's ally, Michael Yerger, an 18-year-old real estate agent from Knoxville, TN, wanted to save the four original Malolo tribe members -- who were together prior to the tribal swap -- when they were up against five original Naviti members.
Michael therefore played the idol for Stephanie Johnson, but she was the wrong choice and Brendan went home. Going forward, Michael, Stephanie and Jenna Bowman will be on the outs.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Brendan talked about his time on Survivor: Ghost Island. Below is the first half of what he had to say.
Reality TV World: Walking into Tribal Council, what did you think the plan was, and what exactly did Michael share with you? Did you know he was going to try to convince everyone his idol had the power of double immunity?
Brendan Shapiro: Yeah, so before Tribal Council, the plan was to try to throw up a bunch of noise at [Sebastian Noel] and [Chelsea Townsend] and hope that we could panic them (laughs) into making a move that wasn't good for them.
So you saw us kind of going at Bradley, but I think in reality, we knew it was a longshot. And we figured if we couldn't get the panic reaction we were hoping for and get somebody to jump, then we'd have to play the idol.
Earlier that day, I had kind of started to figure out that they were going to go for one of the guys, despite what the edit would have you believe.
They showed Naviti sitting around talking about how we would never suspect they'd go for a guy. That was exactly what I thought, because they were kind of telegraphing that they might go for Stephanie Johnson.
And then I had a conversation with [Kellyn Bechtold] maybe two hours behind Tribal Council, where we just had a heart-to-heart and she's such a sweet person, and she really wears her heart on her sleeve.
I told her that the next day was my birthday, which it was, and even though I was on the wrong side of the numbers, I just hoped that I could still be playing Survivoron my birthday. And I saw a little tear come to her eye, right?
And she turned around quickly and probably hoped -- or thought -- that I hadn't noticed. And that was all the confirmation I needed, I knew it was coming my way. And so, I regrouped with Michael and said, "Hey man, this is what just happened, the vote is coming to me. You've got to put this [idol] on me."
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Because that was our big chance to swing the whole game. Unfortunately I wasn't able to convince him. He just really didn't think that they would put votes on a guy that early. So then when we got to Tribal Council, things kind of went the way I thought they were going to go.
And then Michael stood up and pulled out the idol and said the bit about the fact he had [James Clement]'s idol, which meant it was good for two people. That was something that was a surprise to me.
He didn't tell me about that part. And I thought it was a pretty cool move. He's a super savvy player, and I think the viewers are starting to see that. He's, I think, a triple threat. I've been calling him "the Survivor prodigy" because I think he can do it all.
He was only 18 at the time and had a great social game, a great strategic game, and obviously he was physically strong. So that was a really cool move. He made the wrong call on how to play that idol, but it's tough out there. There's a lot of information flying around and sometimes you just have to trust your gut.
He didn't play the idol selfishly. He played it in the way that was hopefully going to swing the game for all of us. Because if he put it on me, Bradley gets the boot and now it's 4-4 and Malolo's looking good. So, it just didn't work out, but that's the way it goes sometimes.
Reality TV World: We saw Michael whisper to you at Tribal Council he should play the idol for Stephanie. You seemed to nod your head in agreeance or at least with understanding. So what was going through your mind? Were you totally onboard with the idea at that point?
Brendan Shapiro: Yeah, so at that point, I had told him what I had told him. And earlier in Tribal Council, he was trying to get my attention to tell me something, and I didn't know what it was. It turned out I had the note for the James idol. He had the idol and I had the note.
We had a plan that we were thinking about carrying out -- which never ended up happening -- so he was trying to get the note from me. And I didn't know that was it; I thought he was trying to tell me something else. You only know what you see out there.
So he was trying to get my attention, and when he said to me after the whole Tribal Council, "Hey, I think it's Stephanie," I could only assume that he had new information that I maybe didn't know about, because I talked to him probably an hour... before Tribal Council.
And then there's time there at the end in which he maybe heard something or saw something that would make him believe, [the target] was in fact Stephanie, and I just hoped he was right.
That nod was kind of like, "Alright man, do what you've got to do," kind of nod, and unfortunately it was not the right play and I went home. But it wasn't for lack of trying, and he wasn't selfish. He tried to play it for all of us, and it just didn't work out.
Reality TV World: I'm assuming you regret not being more vocal about needing the idol then? Is that right?
Brendan Shapiro: Yeah! I don't know. To be honest, if I had stood up and said once again -- because what you didn't see in the edit was, five minutes earlier at Tribal Council, [Jeff Probst] asked me if I thought I was safe.
And rather than giving the canned answer of, "Oh, I always pack my bag. I could go," I said, "I am not safe. I think they're trying to make it look like it's definitely Stephanie, and really, they're going to put the vote on me." I announced it to the world! And so, I had kind of said my piece at that point.
Reality TV World: Did you get the sense the original Naviti members actually believed Michael's lie about his idol being able to save two people? And why do you think you became their target instead of Michael if they wanted to take out a physical threat?
Brendan Shapiro: You know, I don't know. You'd have to ask them, but I think it was [Desiree Afuye] who threw my name out first. They started talking about going for a guy because we wouldn't suspect it, and then Michael came up first.
But then Des threw my name out, and they all kind of said, "Yeah, that'll work!" So I don't know why they thought I was an even more surprising target than Michael.
I would have guessed it would be the other way around. So I don't have the answer to that question, I just thought it was me because Kellyn -- without meaning to do it -- kind of tipped her hand.
Reality TV World: Did you personally try to get someone from original Naviti to flip ahead of Tribal Council? We at least saw Stephanie trying to make moves, but she failed.
Brendan Shapiro: Yeah, we tried to have conversations, but they were really good. I mean, to their credit, they were really good about circling the wagon. There were very limited opportunities, even to get any of them one-on-one -- very limited, like, you basically saw them all on TV in the six days we were out there.
So I think there was like one or two. So, they did a really good job of kind of circling the wagon and so that was tough. I had an opportunity.
Kellyn came to me during that same conversation we had, and she approached me about flipping. And basically it was the classicSurvivor conundrum, where you're trying to balance playing for tomorrow with playing for the end of the game.
And I felt like flipping on my original Malolos -- you know, telling them how we were going to vote and double-crossing the Malolos -- would have bought me three more days in the game, but it would have alienated me from all the Malolos, not just the ones on my side, but the other side as well.
And I would have definitively been the bottom rung of the Naviti ladder, and so I would've been in trouble across the board. I felt like it would kill my -- it might ensure me three more days, but I wasn't placing for sixteenth place or fifteenth place or whatever.
I was playing to win! So I was willing to go big and take a risk on a one-in-four shot if that meant we could change the entire game and I'd have a much better shot of winning the game.
Be sure to check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion of our exclusive Survivor interview with Brendan Shapiro.